My brief.

I enjoyed writing these responses to a few questions used to create a member profile in the May issue of BriefCASE. BriefCASE is a monthly e-newsletter that highlights advancement news, CASE resources and CASE members.

Can you describe your key responsibilities as director of creative services in strategic initiatives?
In my role as director of creative services, I am a member of William & Mary’s senior strategic communication team. Directing the creative vision, scope and planning for campus-wide marketing and communications, I lead a diverse team of talented and collaborative creative professionals. I also oversee the university’s online presence (web, video, and social media) and major print publications. I am very fortunate – this is a great job and I work with the best creative team ever!

What has been your greatest challenge in your current position?
One challenge in my current position is the seemingly endless number of possibilities, so many projects we can undertake, and so many great ideas that we can pursue. Layering that with a culture of communication that is rapidly evolving means that keeping up is always a challenge. As a result, I spend a lot of time evaluating options, weighing opportunities, and making sure that our team is consistently focused on initiatives that tell the William & Mary story to key audiences. We come to work every day thinking about ways to explain and promote what happens on our campus.

What do you believe is the most pressing problem facing advancement professionals today?
In my view, one problem facing advancement professionals today is that taking risks is key to successful advancement work. The best communication leaders are willing to think differently, or pursue a different course. And in today’s environment, that means taking risks in our communication strategies. Some of the risks are small: let’s replace a 30-page print piece with a beautifully designed postcard that drives individuals to a website. Others take more courage: let’s run an Internet campaign to involve alumni in a high-visibility decision about the university. Risk is inherent in contemporary communication tools – the content is immediate, the message spreads in a rumor-like fashion, and individuals openly evaluate your approach. Still, a careful approach, with some built-in risk, can be wildly successful.

How has CASE membership influenced your career?
My career could be a case study to demonstrate the value of professional development offered by organizations like CASE. Twenty-nine years ago, I left college planning to be a high school Spanish teacher. Somehow, I ended up as an advancement professional after two other careers in human resources and information technology. The bottom line is that organizations like CASE offer a structure that allows individuals to move beyond their campuses. As soon as you look externally and reflect on ways that you can contribute to the broader conversation within your practice, you need a professional organization like CASE. For someone like me, CASE offered endorsement that, although you didn’t plan it, the work you are doing fits within a professional framework. CASE helped me discover that I am part of a national and international enterprise dedicated to excellence within higher education communication.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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